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Sundance review: ‘Cesar’s Last Fast’

First Published      Last Updated Jan 24 2014 08:38 pm

"Cesar's Last Fast"

U.S. Documentary

*** (three stars)

The life and legacy of labor leader Cesar Chavez is given a spiritual dimension in the stirring documentary "Cesar's Last Fast." The movie focuses on Chavez' decision in 1988 to endure a water-only fast, as personal penance for failing to do more to stop the use of dangerous pesticides in the vineyards where farmworkers picked grapes. Director Richard Ray Perez employs footage from credited co-director Lorena Parlee (who was Chavez' press secretary, and died in 2006) that shows Chavez' deteriorating health during the fast, and intercuts it with interviews with colleagues and supporters that detail Chavez' leadership in the battle for farmworkers' rights in the '60s and '70s. The movie borders on hero worship, but the look at Chavez' nonviolent protests and his personal sacrifice is moving.

-- Sean P. Means

"Cesar's Last Fast" screens again in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival: Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Tower Theatre, Salt Lake City.